Bruins vs Maple Leafs XVII: Strengths, Weaknesses, and a Prediction

Boston. Toronto. Meeting in the playoffs for the 17th time. Does it get much better than this?
Mar 7, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Tyler Bertuzzi (59) fights Bruins defenseman Parker Wotherspoon (29)
Mar 7, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Tyler Bertuzzi (59) fights Bruins defenseman Parker Wotherspoon (29) / Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
1 of 6

April in Boston is synonymous with a few things.

Baseball, cherry blossoms, and boats floating through the Common are back in full swing. The weather is finally nice enough to walk around without twelve layers on. Before too long, the retirees ought to start making their way back from Florida.

But, more than anything, this time of year means playoff hockey. And, while these aren’t your father’s (or even your older brother’s) Bruins, for the umpteenth consecutive year, they’ll enter the postseason with legitimate Stanley Cup hopes. 

Boston enters the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a regular season which saw them net 109 points, good for second in the Atlantic division and fourth in the Eastern Conference. While they didn’t quite reach last season’s record-obliterating 135 point mark, it was another successful campaign under head coach Jim Montgomery, and the Bruins are in a real position to chase the ever-elusive Lord Stanley.

The Bruins’ reward for a successful regular season is a first-round matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Toronto had a decent season in their own right, finishing with 102 points; superstar center Auston Matthews led the way with a team single-season record 69 goals. This season marks the Leafs’ eighth straight playoff appearance, their longest streak in 43 years.

Anyone who follows hockey knows this is more than your average first-round series. This will be the 17th playoff iteration of Leafs-Bruins, and yet another chapter in one of the most storied rivalries of all time. The two split the first 16 series, each winning eight; Toronto won eight of the first ten, but the tides have turned. The Bruins have taken each of the last six, including three in the past 11 years. Each of the past three series have gone to a pivotal Game Seven, ending in heartbreak for the Maple Leafs every time.

Boston’s dominance spilled into the 2023-24 regular season, winning all four head-to-head meetings with the Leafs. However, as we saw just last year, the regular season is rarely a true barometer for playoff success. Combine the emotion of the postseason with a heartsick Toronto team surely hellbent on avenging the ghosts of Maple Leafs past, and this series is more of a tossup than meets the eye.

Let’s break down the strengths, weaknesses, and potential standouts for each team in what’ll almost certainly be two weeks of exhilarating, heart-stopping hockey.